attends OSPAs Thought Leadership Summit 2019 – Part 4 – Dave Humphries, Chief Executive at SIA

Dave Humphries, Interim Chief Executive at Security Industry Authority

On Thursday, 28th of February, attended the OSPAs UK Thought Leadership Summit 2019 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel. In a Four-Part Series, summaries on each of the four speakers have now been released over the course of this week. As with last year, the event was attended by key figures in the security industry, bringing them together with a collection of speakers drawn both from within and from outside the UK security industry.

The last Speaker to stand was Dave Humphries, Interim Chief Executive at Security Industry Authority on the Programme of “Private Security – how it helps and how it hinders”

Beginning his speech Dave Humphries sought to outline his role in relation to the SIA, also highlighting how the SIA functions in relation to government.

“The SIA is the Government regulator of Private Security. We are charged by statute to raise standards in Private Security and primarily for the purpose of public protection, not the central government actor, but an arm’s-length body accountable to the Home Office and consequently the Home Secretary.”

“If we want new legislation in order to do things, we need to go to the Home Office and get their approval. I would say that in the nine years that I have been in place at the SIA, it’s normally unsuccessful in that.”

In talking about the crucial dynamic between the SIA and the Private Security Sector, Mr Humphries suggests that for the SIA to be successful it must work on the understanding that the organisation is a “part of something bigger than itself, in fact, the SIA must work with other people … in isolation the SIA achieves little by itself.”

Stressing that to strive in the endeavour to raise standards in the private security industry, teamwork and collaboration are the primary responsibilities for all concerned in achieving this goal; for those working for the Authority and those working in the Private Security Sector.

In the 15 Years since the SIA’s inception, Mr Humphries contends that standards have risen, but so has the Authority’s role in relation to the industry it regulates.

“If you look at the 2001 Act (Private Security Industry Act 2001), which brought the SIA into being you could have been forgiven for thinking that the government, in passing this law sought to protect the public from the private security industry. Meaning the industry was typified by violent behaviour, criminal infiltration, organised crime using security businesses as a front for criminality: the perception being of a Wild West. We are not in the Wild West now. But standards have not been raised by regulation alone, collaboration has brought this improvement.” (For more information please click here)

The SIA Licencing System

Through Regulation the following Statistics have been achieved:

– 850 Approved Contractor Businesses
– Since Regulation began 330,000 people have been issued with SIA licences
– Since Regulation began 60,000 people have been excluded from holding a licence
– 99% Compliance.

Continuing on from the successes cited, Mr Humphries also raised as an example of malpractice, the event that occurred in Manchester at The Factory, a nightclub in Central Manchester in late 2018. Covered by Manchester Evening News here.

“This is now reflective of standards generally in our sector, however, it is a warning to us as a regulator and others that without intervention there are people out there who want to take us back to those ‘Wild West’ days.”

Private Security – Protecting the public & what that should mean

Mr Humphries outlined that Private Security in protecting the Public, self-evidently engage in crime enforcement. Suggesting that effective Private Security should be “good for business,” preventing crime against customers: as crime, violence and fear are bad for the client and their business.

This can be seen in the apt example of The Factory Nightclub. A historic and popular venue among University Students and locals; famous for being the building where Factory Records (Record Label) were based, which featured bands such as The Happy Mondays, Joy Division and New Order among others. The nightclub, following the incident in 2018 had to close its doors before the holidays and remained closed over the Christmas season pending a licencing review.

Moving onto the Business Models of Private Security companies active in the Manned Guarding Sector in particular, Mr Humphries raised concerns about companies dealing with greater volumes of Manned Guarding. The trademark of this segment of the industry carry the risk of tight margins, but also the competition of those who engage in illegal and poor security practices. In addition, putting forward his personal reservations concerning the movement of Security Companies towards Facilities Management Models stating that, “if the aim is professionalising security; maintenance and cleaning will not help the cause.”

In other comments, Mr Humphries alluded to a number of upcoming plans at the SIA:

– To introduce a Code of Conduct, enforceable by the SIA in cases where Officers do not adhere to the required standard.
– An ACS Review next April and
– To look at Managers and Directors, in terms of their qualifications and aptitude.